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12 Political Insights: A Starter-Kit for 2006

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Message Bernard Weiner
Bush&Co.'s scandals are coming so rapidly and getting so huge that it's hard to lay off talking about them at length, but in this new year, let's step back a bit for some longer-range perspectives.

In no particular order, here from decades of politics-watching are a dozen bits of insight, most of which were reinforced by events in year 2005. Below each is some discussion of how those truisms flowered in the Bush era.

1. If you have a sturdy dam that develops a crack, fix it quickly before the seeping water enlarges the opening and a flood pours down on the populace.<-b>

Given their history and first year in office, the Bush Administration should have been seen early for what they were -- a pack of rapacious, power-hungry incompetents. But, after 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, a frightened citizenry and Congress trusted them to do the right thing. The nominal opposition party caved early and often. The Patriot Act, rushed through Congress right after 9/11, opened the floodgates to shredding Constitutional protections of civil liberties, which then led to the accumulation of more and more police powers in the Executive Branch. (Let us never forget Lord Acton's warning: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.") Now, four-plus years later, because the governmental breech wasn't repaired quickly enough, it probably will take impeachment and conviction to even begin to restore Constitutional rule in this country.

2. If you persist in trying to force a square peg into a round opening, you will cause great damage to the peg, to the opening, and frustration for yourself, because it simply won't go. Corollary: If you're in a deep hole, first thing to do: stop digging.<-b>

The Iraq War was worked out years before the invasion by neo-con intellectuals who thought their goals would be met quickly once Saddam was toppled. They did what was necessary to convince Congress and the American people to support the war -- lied, deceived, swore falsely -- and then ran headlong into a reality for which they were totally unprepared. As occupiers, they did everything late, wrong or backasswards, including bringing Iraq full-scale corruption, massive torture and constant humiliation, and likely civil war and disintegration of its unitary state. The end result will be a religiously-dominated state of some sort opposed to U.S. interests, heavily influenced by Iran. The U.S. eventually will have to leave Iraq, but even though the handwriting long has been on the wall, Bush refuses to find a quick, face-saving way out and will "stay the course" until "victory." Translated: many more thousands of Americans and Iraqis will have to die because Bush cannot, will not, admit the gross political miscalculation that led to that war and the need to drastically change his goals. In all things Iraq, Bush turns out to be extremist Islam's top recruiting agent. Yet another brief for the impeachment of Bush/Cheney.


3. Secrets eventually surface, especially the worst ones you're trying to hide.<-b>

The Bush Administration is the most secretive in U.S. history -- for a good reason: They have much to hide, a lot of it criminal in nature. The latest secret is an outgrowth of the false reasoning that grew out of the Iraq War and the official policy permitting torture. According to this twisted logic, Bush can do whatever he wants, including violate laws passed by Congress, whenever he asserts that he's acting as "commander-in-chief" during "wartime." Yes, of course, there is no official declaration of war, but Bush says we're at "wartime," and that war will last forever -- ergo, shut up, lie back and don't resist your fate. The latest secret to leak involves his illegal orders to the National Security Administration to "monitor" (data-mine) phone calls and emails of millions of American citizens, without first obtaining court warrants, as required by law. Breaking that law is an impeachable offense. (Note: These classified secrets are being leaked, by and large, by Bush Administration military and security officials, conservatives, anxious to get this reckless crew out of the White House before they sail our country into even more dangerous waters and crash us on rocks and icebergs.)

4. It's not who votes that counts, it's who counts the votes. -- J. Stalin<-b>

We have a long way to go to restore integrity and transparency to the touchscreen and vote-tabulation system in this country -- right now it's the major political scandal of our time. Secret software controlled by Republican-supporting corporations can easily be manipulated and vote-tallies altered without leaving any evidence of the fraud. But a goodly number of states and localities are raising serious questions about the legitimacy of the process. Several states have threatened to decertify touch-screen machines, and some have done so. It is anticipated that class-action and private lawsuits will be filed shortly against Diebold, and that the Securities & Exchange Commission may begin a fraud probe of this leading e-voting company. One can almost spot a growing trend questioning the viability of e-voting. But, as I say, we're still in for manipulated tallies in 2006 and 2008 unless major reforms are demanded and implemented nationwide by the citizenry. Ironically, when manipulated elections are held in foreign countries, and hundreds of thousands of aggrieved citizens pour into the streets to demand an overturning of the tampered-with vote results, the American media and Bush Administration officials celebrate this example of democracy in action. Notice any difference when it comes even to raising the question of whether our elections are honest?

5. Most people passively accept a lot, but when a lot becomes way too much, they get very angry and usually look to exact revenge on those doing them dirt.<-b>

There is a "tipping point" in all major social upheavals; one day, things go on as normal and then the next day, when critical mass is just right, citizens move in a forthright manner. Examples: the American and French revolutions, the overthrow of Soviet communism, the '60s civil rights, anti-war and feminist movements. It's taken a while, but the American people -- including an increasing number of conservative Republicans -- more and more are indicating that they've lost trust and faith in the Bush Administration's officials and policies. Keys to this eye-opening have been the Administration's bumbling Iraq policy, its utter incompetence in dealing with the Katrina disaster, and its lies and deceits with regard to running roughshod over citizens' privacy rights by a Chief Executive who is acting more like a banana-republic dictator than the leader of a democratic republic. In addition, half a trillion dollars are being spent on Bush's never-ending Iraq adventure, while the upkeep of streets and infrastructure, and popular social programs, are being cut way back. The middle-class is being pushed more toward the lower end of the economic and cultural spectrum while the wealthy get virtually all the goodies. The economy remains in the doldrums. The citizenry are getting fed up and increasingly indicate their willingness to take out their anger on GOP members of the House and Senate in 2006.


6. Bullies feed off submission and acquiescence, and retreat in the face of united opposition.<-b>

It is beyond comprehension why it took an entire first term for the Democrats to understand that you can't make nice with those who are working to destroy you as an effective political force. But the Dems did act as if politics could be conducted as usual, thus becoming enablers of Bush's most destructive policies and, by so doing, made themselves essentially irrelevant. In the first year of Bush's second term, the Democrats occasionally were more feisty, behaving as an Opposition Party should. But they still tend to tiptoe around controversial topics (electoral integrity and fraud, for example, which they won't touch with an 11-foot pole, and withdrawal from Iraq ASAP), still terrified of being called "unpatriotic" or "soft on terrorism" or "sore losers." Reid exhibits some starch in the Senate, and Pelosi at times in the House, and they've been able to keep their forces united on enough occasions so that, in alliance with GOP moderates, they've been able to give Bush&Co. fits. Note to Democratic leaders: Stand up straight and fight back, or you'll wind up on the dung-heap of history, tossed there by your aroused, angry Democratic base. If they can get no leverage in turning around their party, they may go the third-party route, along with many disaffected moderate Republicans.

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Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...)
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